Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Proverbs 31:10-31 Introduction
The ideal woman? Give me a break, I can hear some of you saying. I know, I know. There might be some surprises in store for us, though, as we study this famous chapter. I think there are nuggets here for single women, married women, young and old. Before we dive in, I'd like to set the stage . . .
It used to be a very different view in our world; the "ideal" woman, or the woman that many tried to be, was something far removed from what the culture promotes today. It's fun to look at magazines from years past -- you can learn a lot from the articles, and from the advertisements. Leafing through old Life magazines, say, from the thirties (that's 1930's to you whippersnappers!) you would think that women were only interested in fresh breath, good smokes, and their husbands' gorgeous, well groomed hair. With an occasional foray into the gee-I-guess-I-need-a-girdle-after-Johnny-was-born thoughts. The magazines are filled with pictures of appetizing meals, beautifully smiling models, and products to help your home warm, happy, and luxurious.
In the war years, the ads changed somewhat, to include tips on ration-point-stretching recipes, and what to wear when Johnny Sr. came home. Pictures focused on women who were cooking for their families, reading stories to the children, and helping the homefront war efforts. The point that I am trying to make here is the contrast between the "ideal" of that time, and the supposed "ideal" of now . . .
Today's woman is expected to wield a briefcase or smartphone instead of a spatula or storybook; the woman who "has it all" is exalted in print and on television. Let's look at this woman:
Our superwoman works, building her career and demanding equal pay. She refuses to submit to her husband, demanding equality with him in everything. She has an affair or two, and then a divorce or two. She exercises her independence and relies on her own strength and resources. Doesn't want her husband or her children to threaten her personal goals. She very often has her own bank account and she hires a maid or a cleaning service, eating out at least 50 percent of the time with her family (or without). She makes cold cereal and coffee the standard breakfast for everybody. Quick frozen meals are the usual dinner fare if there is a dinner fare at home, and she expects her husband to do at least an equal share of housework, if not more.
She is tanned, groomed, aerobicized, shops to keep up the fashion trends, making sure she can compete in the attention-getting contest. She puts the kids in a day-care center. When they are older, she makes sure each one has a TV in his room or a radio and a CD player so they are entertained all the time and don't bother her. She is opinionated, usually likes to be heard from and is eager to fulfill her personal goals.
That's the kind of woman that the world applauds. It doesn't appear that she can really stay married, she can't stay happy and her kids get into trouble and sometimes drugs and more.
And guess what?
She is far from the woman that God has called the excellent woman to be.
Verse 10 mentions "an excellent wife," and that is what we will be discussing. This is an ideal, a model, a guide. This is not something that is supposed to inspire guilt or hopelessness. It doesn't even describe a particular woman . . . it describes an ideal. This is something that we can use to help us, not to tear us down.
I hope that we have some comments and discussions, for we can all learn from each other and from the Word.